Downed lines are making it hard for Entergy to restore power in Louisiana.

Entergy said on Monday that Hurricane Ida had put 216 substations and more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines out of service.


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Downed lines are making it hard for Entergy to restore power in Louisiana.

Downed lines in Houma, in southeast Louisiana, on Monday. The financial costs of storms are piling up for Entergy.Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

Aug. 31, 2021, 2:53 p.m. ET

Entergy, the largest electric utility in New Orleans, is struggling to restore service to hundreds of thousands of customers who have been without electricity since Sunday because Hurricane Ida brought down or damaged many of its power lines.

The utility company said it had shut down a natural gas plant that began operation last year, the New Orleans Power Station, because of damage to large transmission lines and some of the smaller distribution lines that carry power to homes and businesses. That plant, which was meant to provide electricity during periods of high demand and in emergencies, was not heavily damaged in the storm, the company said.

Several other plants near the city also are ready to produce electricity when workers complete enough repairs to power lines. They include Ninemile 6 in Westwego, La., and the J. Wayne Leonard Power Station in Montz, La.

“Teams are assessing the transmission system and working to develop a plan for restoration of power,” Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy, said in an email on Tuesday. “They expect to have first light within the city by end of day Wednesday.”

The company said on Monday that Ida, a Category 4 storm, had put 216 substations and more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines out of service.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has praised Entergy for building the J. Wayne Leonard plant, expressed some frustration on Tuesday with the pace at which the company was restoring power to New Orleans and a wide stretch of southern Louisiana, where heat and humidity have made the air feel hotter than 100 degrees. Some residents have been told that they could be without electricity for weeks.

“I’m not satisfied with 30 days, the Entergy people aren’t satisfied with 30 days, nobody who’s out there needing power is satisfied with that,” Mr. Edwards said. “But I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane — at least tied for the strongest — that the state has ever experienced.”

Entergy provides power to three million customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. The company, which employs more than 13,000 people, brought in $10.1 billion in revenue in 2020.

The financial costs of storms are piling up for Entergy. In addition to the repairs it is making because of Ida, the company’s equipment was damaged in three hurricanes in 2020 and a winter storm this year. Entergy told Louisiana regulators that restoration costs in the state relating to the earlier storms would total $2.1 billion. The company is seeking permission to charge customers higher electricity rates to cover those costs. Regulators typically end up approving such requests, but ratepayers may object to frequent rate increases.

In its request to recoup the costs, Entergy detailed the scale of the wreckage of the most damaging of last year’s storms — Hurricane Laura. The company said 1,822 transmission structures, 12,453 distribution poles and roughly 770 miles of distribution wires were destroyed or damaged.

In February, Entergy said in a securities filing that hurricanes last year damaged several transmission lines, including an unspecified one in southeastern Louisiana. The company said that the line had not been repaired because it could cost a lot to do so. “The restoration plan for this transmission line and the related cost estimate is still being evaluated,” Entergy said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Entergy did not immediately respond to questions about the transmission line damaged in last year’s hurricanes.

Sophie Kasakove contributed reporting.

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